The University of Virginia’s College at Wise has one of the strongest nursing programs in the state, with high graduation rates, GPAs, and student retention. In need of a new home for this growing department, the College partnered with Clark Nexsen to reimagine Wyllie Hall, an existing, 2-story former library of approximately 28,500 square feet.
The building will be repurposed to house the entire Department of Nursing as well as an herbarium, lab, and classroom for the Biology Department. Two new entries will redefine the approach to the building from both levels. The design integrates modern plazas that strive to aid faculty and students in building wellness. This is achieved through plant, material, and lighting selections, as well as providing different spaces for quiet contemplation.
Once inside, contemporary materials, LED lighting, new MEP systems, an elevator, and complete re-glazing will redefine the experience of both students and faculty. New openings for a large skylight and central stair will serve as the core and social hub of the building, where students and faculty meet, study, and socialize. Additionally, new openings in the exterior skin frame key views to the landscape and allow for ample natural light into various spaces.
The new floor plans provide continuous circulation throughout the levels, create intentional encounters between faculty and students, and designate quiet zones for study as well as more open spaces for group conversation and social gatherings. Various classroom sizes and technology will allow for flexibility in teaching styles for years to come. In addition to classrooms, faculty offices, and a variety of collaboration spaces, the skills nursing lab, simulation labs, and adjacent debrief room will dramatically enhance the learning experience for students.
At a minimum, the building will be LEED certified, and the design team is utilizing various strategies to aim for LEED Gold. For example, the new roof will include 3,500 square feet of solar panels that will provide power to the building.